Saudi preacher apology 'important', Anwar Gargash says

Aaidh Al Qarni's apology took place during a TV interview with a famous media personality

Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, speaks during a press conference in Dubai about the situation in Yemen on August 13, 2018. - The United Arab Emirates, Riyadh's main partner in the Saudi-led military coalition battling Huthi rebels in Yemen, says it is also determined to wipe out Al-Qaeda in the country's south. (Photo by KARIM SAHIB / AFP)
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Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said on Wednesday that a prominent Saudi preacher's apology for his previous hardline interpretations of Islam was "important".

Aaidh Al Qarni was part of the Sahwa clerical movement in the 1990s that heavily criticised the Saudi government for what they believed was collusion with the US against Iraq's invasion against Kuwait.

Mr Al Qarni said that a period of puritanical thought by the group had been a mistake.

Dr Gargash said that apologies like Mr Al Qarni's show that the Muslim world is moving to modernity with the exception of Qatar, which he claims continues to politicise Islam.

“The apology by Sheikh Al Qarni in his interview with Abdulla Al Mudfer is very important. Just as we close the door on using Islam for political aims, we must also close the door on Qatar’s influence on its neighbours. The sheikh reinforced what we already know about [Qatari emir] Sheikh Haman bin Khalifa and his policies," he tweeted.

Mr Al Qarni said he now supported the moderate Islam encouraged by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

However, many on Twitter criticised the cleric’s contrition, saying his apology was far from enough.